Top Ten

February 8, 2011

Petition supports Canadian Christian universities in academic freedom dispute

A group of academics has initiated a campaign defending Canadian Christian PSE institutions against what it calls "anti-religious bullying" by the Canadian Association of University Teachers. The campaign is a direct response to reports that CAUT has issued against Trinity Western University, Crandall University, and Canadian Mennonite University. The petition argues that the association's investigations are "unwarranted and invasive." CAUT says they were not censuring the universities but rather informing the public of the "realities of the institution." "An institution that includes or excludes teachers on basis of a faith test is antithetical to what a university is supposed to be," says CAUT executive director James Turk. The academics who have signed the petition say CAUT's determination of a particular institution lacking academic freedom due to a requirement to sign a statement of faith does not stand up to scrutiny. National Post

In Ontario, parental education stronger determinant than income of PSE attendance

According to 2 new studies commissioned by the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario, a single year of parental education has a greater positive impact on the likelihood of a child attending a PSE institution than does an additional $50,000 in parental income. For students in Ontario, coming from a low-income household is even less of a barrier to higher education than is the case anywhere else in Canada, according to the research. While parental education was a strong determinant of PSE attendance across the country, family income was more strongly associated with college or university enrolment in Atlantic Canada and Quebec than elsewhere. The research observes that the effects of family income were stronger nationally for females than for males. HEQCO News Release | Read the study (access to PSE) | Read the study (under-represented groups in PSE)

UNBSJ could help retain workers, draw newcomers, says VP

The vice-president of UNB Saint John says worker retention and foreign-student recruitment are important goals for Saint John and the New Brunswick government, and UNBSJ has the capacity to help the province meet those objectives. Robert MacKinnon says he is deeply concerned about the need to provide jobs for UNB graduates, often hearing reports of recent alumni heading to major urban centres to seek employment. UNBSJ could partner with government and area businesses to create an internship program where employers would provide graduates with on-the-job training, thereby increasing the chances that youth would remain in New Brunswick while filling local job vacancies, MacKinnon says. Noting that UNBSJ has considerable experience in recruiting international students, MacKinnon says the institution could help the various levels of government attract more people to the region. Telegraph-Journal

Capital projects central to VIU president's vision for institution

In an interview with Nanaimo Daily News, Vancouver Island University president Ralph Nilson says he is pleased with the school's ongoing transition from a university-college to a university. Since becoming VIU's president, Nilson has released a 50-year vision that would transform Nanaimo. VIU constructed its largest building at its Cowichan campus last year, and recent projects include the $8-million shellfish research centre and the $5.25-million International Centre for Sturgeon Studies. Nilson says he would like to have a new science facility built on the Nanaimo campus. "It's our biggest need but governments have no money to spend," he says, adding that he is looking for even more support from the private sector to help raise funds for needed projects. Nanaimo Daily News

New policy bans party buses from entering uManitoba campus

In response to safety concerns, the University of Manitoba has introduced policy prohibiting buses rented for events involving alcohol from entering the Fort Garry campus, reports a student newspaper. uManitoba sent a memo to student groups last month asking them to stop using party buses to transport students to and from the bar, as the institution is currently revising its alcohol policy "in light of recent incidents that have been the direct result of bus trips organized by local nightclubs." As an interim step, uManitoba will charge such vehicles that come onto campus property with trespassing. Some students feel the new rules will encourage risky behaviour, such as driving to and from events under the influence. The Manitoban (student newspaper)

McGill student leader censured over secret deal with recruiting site

McGill University's student government council has publicly censured its president for his involvement with Jobbook, a new website designed to match students from elite universities with potential employers. Zach Newburgh negotiated a deal that would give the student society one share in Jobbook for every McGill student who signed up. He received an undisclosed stake from Jobbook for visiting and recruiting student leaders from prominent schools in the US and Britain, compensation he has since returned. Newburgh broke his silence once a 4-month confidentiality agreement had expired, admitting that signing it was a “poor judgment call.” Newburgh was criticized for his secrecy and an alleged conflict of interest, but he remains confident that the website will be a success, making the controversy surrounding its affairs worth it. McGill Tribune (student newspaper) | The Chronicle of Higher Education (free access)

Quest U launches new website

We've recently noticed that BC-based Quest University has redesigned its website, whose homepage describes the institution's Block Plan approach to education: "You take one class at a time -- a new intellectual adventure each month. You sample many realms of knowledge and then build your own major." The new site features video interviews with students about their experience at Quest U, testimonials from tutors on why they enjoy teaching at the institution, and videos of president David Helfand outlining the essentials of Quest U. Quest U website

uToronto creates online community for applicants

The University of Toronto has launched a new online portal serving as a gateway to the uToronto experience for both applicants and admitted students. Since going live in mid-January, "Join U of T" has attracted over 20,000 unique visitors, with visits from applicants in 112 countries. The portal is a tri-campus effort designed to make uToronto more approachable and welcoming. Through the site, prospective students can check their application status, participate in live chats with program representatives, and offer their opinion on posted questions. A Twitter feed, student blogs, and a Facebook page are also key features, allowing potential students to interact with others who may someday be their classmates. uToronto News | Join U of T

Chronicle profiles new direction at uPhoenix

The Chronicle of Higher Education got a behind-the-scenes look last month at some of the new recruiting techniques, education moves, and marketing efforts Apollo Group Inc. is using to reshape the University of Phoenix. The timing of the changes, the publication notes, is hardly coincidental, as uPhoenix and the multi-billion for-profit PSE industry it helped to build face the greatest political, financial, and PR pressures in their history. The re-engineering, which includes a mandatory student orientation program and a new compensation system for enrolment and financial-aid counsellors, is designed to attract a different kind of student. While some industry observers say uPhoenix's strategy is a financial risk, others see the new direction possibly resulting in the company relying more on corporate alliances and global ventures to make its numbers. The Chronicle of Higher Education (subscription required)

US conference explores how far institutions should go to monitor Internet behaviour

At the National Conference on Law and Higher Education in Florida Monday, presenters and attendees grappled with the many thorny questions social networks pose for colleges, such as whether institutions have an obligation to monitor what students and staff post online. Some suggest schools should tread carefully, noting that a policy suggesting online behaviour will be monitored creates an obligation that institutions do so fairly and effectively. Colleges are also concerned about the potential for students to be harassed through anonymous online taunting. Rather than focusing on speech that may simply be offensive, institutions should concentrate on developing student codes of conduct that zero in on conduct that genuinely interferes with another student's educational activity, says an official at New Jersey's Rutgers University. The Chronicle of Higher Education (free access)